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The Child of the Holy Grail: The Third of the Guenevere Novelsby Rosalind Miles
Synopses & Reviews
The bitter rains of March beat on the hillside overhead. But deep in the heart of the rock, it was warm and dry. Inside the high-domed underground dwelling-place, the light from many candles played over walls swagged in blood-red velvet, looped and tied back with ropes of silver-gilt. Bright rugs from the East covered the stony floor in amber and indigo, garnet, rose, and black. A low fire glowed and murmured on the hearth, its slender plume of smoke lost in the void above.
In the center of the chamber, Merlin lay on a curiously made couch, staring at the ceiling through tightly closed eyes. A wand of golden yew lay within reach, humming softly to itself in a high, beelike whine. His hands lay loosely at his sides, palms upward, fingers reaching, ready to catch his dreams as they came down. A ring of candles shone around his head. The flames quivered and changed color, and he knew the time was near.
Yes, yes, he muttered tensely. “I am ready-come–”
Suddenly his thumbs began to itch. For a second his mind turned to milk, warding off the ancient sign of impending evil and danger ahead. He crushed his thumbs in his fists to drive it away. The itching intensified.
No he moaned.
No, he was Merlin still; it could not be. Feverishly he composed himself again for waking sleep, the magic sleep of the Druids he had learned long ago, preparing to send his spirit from his body as he always did. Once he had made the long hard leap of faith, his spirit self would walk the astral plane, gathering the secrets of the Otherworld. When he had to return, when his roaming soul submitted to his body's chain, he would know how to deal with what was to come.
Come to me Come
He could feel his soul straining at the leash, hungry for the void. Any moment now, yes, yesss–
Merlin, Merlin, attend-
A series of stabbing pains shot through his thumbs. Moaning, the old enchanter opened his eyes and forced himself to sit up. There was no avoiding it. There could be no flight of the spirit while this loomed. Evil impending? Where did the danger lie?
Throwing his skinny feet to the floor, he struggled upright and began to pace his cave dwelling, blind to the dark beauty of the place and the books and treasures he had brought there over the years. Mumbling and twitching, he came to rest at last before a silk curtain hanging on the wall. Behind it was an oddly shaped piece of glass in a deep frame. In its clouded depths, he saw a reflection stir and forced himself to interrogate the shadowy shape within.
Danger then? he ground out.
Danger, the answer came.
Merlin gasped in fear. How could it be? He had left Arthur well and happy, not three moons ago. To be sure, Arthur was not as young as he was, and the old man detested the lines deepening on the face he loved, and the gray spreading through his former pupil's glistening fair hair. But for a knight in his forties, Arthur was in his prime. His massive frame was almost unscathed by tournaments and battles, his fine face had lost none of its warmth, and his gray eyes were as kindly as ever, and much wiser now.
With another stab to the heart, Merlin remembered the boy Arthur once had been. Never had a fairer youth trodden the earth, except for Uther Pendragon, Arthu
The conclusion of the Guenevere trilogy, which began with Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country and Knight of the Sacred Lake, begins with the epic quest in search of the Holy Grail and ends with the fall of Camelot and the death of Arthur. Reprint. 40,000 first printing.
Rosalind Miles is a well-known and critically acclaimed English novelist, essayist, and broadcaster. Her novels, including Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country and The Knight of the Sacred Lake, the preceding volumes of the Guenevere Trilogy, have been international bestsellers.
From the Hardcover edition.
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